Tue, Oct 04, 2011 - Page 12 News List

Government mulls lower taxes to lure foreign workers

By Jason Tan  /  Staff Reporter

The government is mulling a series of measures, including the possibility of a tax reduction, to attract foreign talent, Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) said yesterday.

Citing the example of South Korea, which has cut its personal income tax to lure foreign white-collar workers, Shih said the ministry was considering such a possibility and had collected feedback from the private sector and referred their views to the Council for Economic Planning and Development.

The council, which has convened intra-ministerial meetings on the issue, is expected to send a proposal to the Executive Yuan by the end of the month to discuss the possible relaxation of more than 40 regulations to beef up Taiwan’s attractiveness to foreign workers.

Shih made the remarks at the legislature in response to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ting Shou-chung’s (丁守中) question on how the ministry plans to attract foreign expertise to the country.

Ting said the nation has about 435,000 foreign residents over the age of 15. Only 10,000-plus are white-collar workers — with the bulk of them teaching English.

Shih agreed that Taiwan has high thresholds and doesn’t offer many incentives to attract expatriate workers. One barrier that discourages enterprises from hiring foreign workers is the minimum monthly average wage of NT$47,971 (US$1,570), he said.

The ministry said Academia Sinica has suggested reviewing the minimum wage, while the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei proposed eliminating the prerequisite of two years’ work experience to gain a work permit.

Shih also said the ministry was working toward the “6-3-3” economic pledge made by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) during the presidential election campaign in 2008.

The pledge refers to an annual economic growth rate of 6 percent, annual per capita income of US$30,000 and an unemployment rate of less than 3 percent.

Shih said there were factors affecting the attainment of the figures, such as currency exchange rates and the global macroeconomic situation, but the ministry was working toward these goals.

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